UPS Drivers at Risk in Heat, Petition Says

24 Jul, 2019 Liz Carey

                               

Freehold Township, NJ (WorkersCompensation.com) – An online petition is asking a major delivery service to provide air conditioning in their delivery trucks in order to protect drivers during hot weather.

Theresa Klenk, a N.J. nurse, started the online petition in order to protect her husband, a driver with United Parcel Service (UPS). Klenk’s petition calls for UPS to add air conditioning to their trucks to keep drivers from falling subject to heat stroke and dehydration.

“In all but on state, UPS does not provide air conditioning for their drivers – even in the blistering summer heat,” Klenk said in her online petition. “After several days of working in the humid August heat in 2016, my husband woke up feeling ill. Hours later, he was in the emergency room and his kidneys were failing. My husband was re-hydrated and stabilized by a team of doctors. He was one of the lucky ones.”

Temperatures inside the trucks can soar to 180 degrees, she said, making just driving around in the truck hazardous to their health.

“Because UPS won’t protect their employees, drivers like my husband are forced to protect themselves. He tries to save his vacation for the hottest weeks of the year, but it’s nearly impossible to predict,” Klenk wrote. “After 14 years, as a dedicated employee of UPS, I can’t believe my husband has to worry about his safety at work.”

A report by NBC News found that since 2015 more than 100 UPS employees reported being admitted to the hospital for heat-related conditions.

Driver James Trusty said he’s been hospitalized twice.

In an interview with WWBT, Trusty said he drives regularly in the heat with no relief.

"UPS has provided me, my family and everyone I know who works there with a great life," Trusty told WWBT. "The front of the truck has no relief, no air conditioning, no cool air and no way to really cool off.”

Trusty said he spend as much as $200 on bags of ice and water bottles to battle the temperatures.

"I sweat a lot, and I can't put it back in me as fast as I'm losing it," Trusty said. "I can't keep spending $200 a week on drinks."

Trusty said the conditions inside the package truck have sent him to the hospital.

"I've ended up in the hospital twice now because of it," Trusty said. "I was throwing up profusely, so I drove to the hospital and my kidneys were in failure, and I actually needed five-liter bags filled of fluid before I could pee once."

In response, UPS said in a statement that air conditioning in the delivery trucks would not be effective because the trucks make stops every three minutes.

“UPS believes that preparation, rest, hydration and maintaining good heath practices are key to working outdoors.  Working outdoors has been part of UPS delivery jobs since the company was established in 1907,” the statement read. “We highly value all of our employees, including our thousands of package delivery drivers, and their health, safety and wellness are a priority. We have a dedicated team of more than 600 health and safety professionals who review work practices and ensure health awareness.”

The company said it trains its employees to be prepared for summer heat and avoid illness by providing ice and water for employees and providing regular heat illness and injury training that includes focusing on hydration, proper nutrition and sleep.

The company said 20,000 of its tractor trailers have air conditioning because of the long-distances they are driven. But, the company said, package delivery cars are not air conditioned because “an average driver will spend 40% of their time outside the car making deliveries and pickups.  Package delivery vehicles make frequent – typically over 100 — stops during a daily route and the entry doors and rear doors are constantly opened, rendering air conditioning ineffective.”

The company said any employee who feels ill should stop working and contact their supervisor.

Klenk’s online petition had more than 660,000 signatures by press time.


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    • Liz Carey

      Liz Carey has worked as a writer, reporter and editor for nearly 25 years. First, as an investigative reporter for Gannett and later as the Vice President of a local Chamber of Commerce, Carey has covered everything from local government to the statehouse to the aerospace industry. Her work as a reporter, as well as her work in the community, have led her to become an advocate for the working poor, as well as the small business owner.

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